What You Need to Know About Starting a Safety Business

By Christie Walker
According to Prevent Blindness America, 2,000 employees suffer work-related injuries every day in the United States and it’s estimated that only about 50 percent of the workplaces in the United States are currently compliant when it comes to eye safety standard. This represents an untapped market for savvy optical laboratories. With safety contracts typically running for a year or more, the safety market represents a steady and continuous flow of Rx work.

To sell safety eyewear, you should understand why your customer needs a safety program. The purpose of a safety program provides a solution for protecting the eyes of the employees; is necessary for meeting OSHA requirements; helps prevent Worker’s Compensation expenses; decreases medical and operating expenses; increases manufacturing efficiencies through optimum employee vision; and shows concern for the well-being of the employees.

Typically someone outside the company, such as a doctor or a practice, puts a safety program together for a manufacturing company and the optical laboratory then fills the prescriptions for that plan. Practitioners can benefit by offering the employees a complementary vision screening. The employees are asked to wear their safety glasses during the screening. It is not unusual for 3 out of 10 employees to fail the screening. Sixty percent of those that failed will need new eyewear. This is a great way to funnel new business for your account and yourself. Talk to your doctor clients and find out who would be interested in partnering with you to tap into this market.

Who Needs Safety Glasses?

The OSHA regulations specify that anyone exposed to hazardous conditions that could cause an eye injury MUST wear eye protection. Typical eye hazards include but are not limited to: chipping, grinding, sawing, drilling, sanding, welding, plating, handling chemicals, buffing, working in dusty conditions, brazing, casting, machining, riveting or performing similar tasks. Safety glasses should be worn even if you are just working near these operations.

An Eye Saved

As the result of a safety eyewear program, an employee encouraged his eighteen-year-old son, who installs siding on houses, to wear safety glasses. The young man finally gave in when aluminum dust started getting into his eyes. About a week later, while applying siding with an air powered staple gun, he fired a staple and it hit a metal plate behind the siding. The staple ricocheted back towards his face and one leg of the staple penetrated the safety glasses’ lens. The staple hit with such force that the frames were cracked and his eyebrow and cheekbone were bruised, but his eye was saved.

Finding New Accounts

Many smaller companies, (under 100 workers) are overlooked by the large safety suppliers providing you with the perfect place to get your feet wet in safety eyewear. Manufacturing or construction companies represent great opportunities for providing safety eyewear. Contact your local chapter of the ASSE or get a list of local manufacturers. Ask your clients to do a survey of their customers. Have them ask their customer where they work and whether or not they have a safety eyewear program. In this way you may be able to identify non-compliant companies. The local phone booth and the Chamber of Commerce are two other methods of finding local companies that might need safety eyewear. Once you find a potential company, you will want to talk to the director of safety, the occupational health nurse, purchasing manager or human resource manager.

There will be times when you’ll need to dig around in order to identify the person in charge of purchasing safety eyewear. Some companies, especially those who are non-compliant, may not have one particular individual managing a safety program. You may end up working with the plant manager or an engineer.


CURRENT ISSUE


May/June LabTalk 2017